Friday, October 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

A case of mistaken identity
Lynching of innocent Dalits in Jhajjar
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 17
It was a case of mistaken identity which led to the lynching of five innocent persons by a mob in Jhajjar district on Dasehra day. The mob mistook the victims, who were Dalits, for cow slaughterers. Preliminary investigations into the shocking incident suggest that the victims were, in fact, traders of animal skins, according to highly placed sources.

However, official sources maintain on record that the police was still investigating the allegations that the victims had slaughtered a cow to skin it. Two cases have been registered by the Jhajjar police — one against the victims under the Cow Slaughter (Prevention) Act and the other under Section 302, IPC (murder), against unidentified members of the mob which lynched the victims after pulling them out of Dulina police post, about 12 km from the district headquarters of Jhajjar. No arrest has so far been made.

A special investigation team (SIT) has been set up under the leadership of DSP Narinder Singh. The SIT will also try to find out if the cow which was being skinned by the victims was dead before the incident.

The sources say the situation in the district is tense but under control. Since the victims belonged to Gurgaon and Karnal districts, no caste tensions have been generated by the incident in Jhajjar district. However, a few Hindu organisations like the VHP and activists of the Gaushala Committee have warned the district administration of a backlash if action was taken against the perpetrators of violence on October 15 night.

The Jhajjar incident is the second major incident of violence which has rocked the state this year and has been sparked by alleged cow slaughter. Earlier in April violence had erupted in Loharu in Bhiwani district over a similar provocation. However, since in the Loharu incident the alleged cow slaughterers were Muslims, the situation took a communal angle. In Jhajjar the fact that the victims were Hindu Dalits prevented the situation from taking communal overtones.

However, sensing the belligerent mood of the people belonging to the so-called high castes in the area, the police is going slow in making arrests.

According to information received here, the victims — Virender and Dayanand, both of Badshahpur village in Gurgaon district; Raju of Teekli village (Gurgaon); Tota of Akleempur (Gurgaon) and Kailash of Ravidaspur of Karnal district — were carrying animal skins in a four-wheeler from Gurgaon to Karnal. Around 6-30 p.m. on October 15, they were seen skinning a cow on Gurgaon road by some villagers returning from the Dasehra mela.

The news of “cow slaughter” spread like a wild fire in the area. A mob blocked Gurgaon road, demanding action against the suspects of cow slaughter. The suspects were handed over to the Dulina police. The mob collected outside the police post. Three senior officers of the district administration, City Magistrate Rajpal Singh, DSP Narinder Singh and Naib Tehsildar Shyam Lal, also reached the police post.

However, around 10-30 p.m. the mob, which had by then swelled to unmanageable proportions, turned violent and started throwing stones at the police post. It dragged the victims out of the police post and lynched them to death. The four-wheeler belonging to the victims was also set on fire. The victims reportedly pleaded with the mob that since all of them were Hindus, they would not even think of slaughtering a cow. They reportedly said they had been skinning a dead cow which led to the misunderstanding. But no one listened to their cries. The officers, too, did not intervene to save them.

The sources say that if the police had opened fire to disperse the mob, it would have led to a much higher toll. Mr Mohinder Kumar, DC; and Mr Mohammed Akil, SP, known to be an efficient police officer, reached the spot with additional forces. The situation could be brought under control well past midnight.

The bodies of the suspects were handed over to their next of kin after a post-mortem examination, with an assurance that the guilty people would not be spared.

Meanwhile, the Haryana branch of the All-India Confederation of SC/ST & BC Organisations has strongly condemned the incident. The President of the Haryana branch of the organisation, Mr Karamvir Singh, said it seemed that certain forces, which had not liked the conversion programme launched by the confederation, had misled the people into perpetrating violence against the innocent Dalits. Demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident, Mr Karamvir Singh said it was surprising that the organisations like the RSS and the VHP had demanded that no action should be taken against those who had violated the law of the land. He also demanded suitable compensation to the families of the victims.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |